Political Science, Department of


Date of this Version



Journal of Political Science (August 1996) 40(3): 632-659.


Copyright 1996, University of Wisconsin. Used by permission.


The analyses reported by Granato, Inglehart, and Leblang (1996; hereafter GIL) are a major improvement over the studies that we examined in our paper. Especially notable is their explicit evaluation of the cultural explanation against a major rival, as represented by endogenous growth models of scholars like Barro (1991), Levine and Renelt (1992), and Helliwell (1994). These models regress economic growth rates over a given period on a set of initial economic, human capital, and other variables. It is in the context of such models that GIL report a significant, independent effect of culture on growth.

GIL's attention to the robustness of their estimates contrasts sharply with the studies evaluated in Jackman and Miller (1996). Their analysis departs from recent treatments in another way. In contrast to Inglehart (1990), for example, who examines the seven different components of culture that we discuss, GIL restrict their attention to just two: postmaterialism and achievement motivation. They find that only achievement motivation affects growth, which serves as the basis for their conclusion about the importance of culture. In this sense, their work stands as a key amendment to recent studies with their emphasis on norms of trust, satisfaction, participation, and the like and signals a return to earlier work, exemplified most notably by McClelland's studies of need for achievement (1961; 1963; McClelland and Winter 1969). Given the exclusion of the former norms from GIL's analysis, along with their reported nonresults for postmaterialism, we take it that they regard achievement motivation as the only "cultural" value affecting economic growth. This narrows the field a good deal.

While there is thus much to recommend their paper over previous work, GIL's conclusion is ultimately unconvincing, on both theoretical and empirical grounds. We address these areas in turn.